AleSmith Decadence 2008 English Style Barleywine - AleSmith Brewing Company

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AleSmith Decadence 2008 English Style BarleywineAleSmith Decadence 2008 English Style Barleywine

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

108 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 108
Reviews: 73
rAvg: 3.8
pDev: 18.42%
Wants: 21
Gots: 20 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
AleSmith Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  11.00% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: paytoplay on 06-14-2009

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 108 | Reviews: 73
Reviews by UCLABrewN84:
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.94/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle pour at the bottle share hosted by Adam Fine Wine & Liquor held at Sophie’s Place in Redondo Beach, CA.

Pours a murky brown with a foamy beige head that settles to an oily film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace slowly drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of malt, brown sugar, and dark fruits with a distinct cherry smell. Taste is slightly tart with malt, brown sugar, caramel, fruits, and a citrus zest flavor on the finish. There is a mild amount of hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer that is tasty but the slight tartness was unexpected.

More User Reviews:
Photo of Mora2000
4.35/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of ericandersnavy.

Pours brownish red with a small off-white head. Aroma is sweet caramel with some vanilla. Very sweet aroma. The flavor is more sweet malt with some caramel, dark fruit and brown sugar. Medium mouthfeel and a very easy drinking high alcohol barleywine. No alcohol is detectable.

Photo of glid02
4.05/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by Joe - much obliged!

Pours a slightly hazy dark copper color with a one-finger off-white head. The head recedes into a thin layer on top leaving decent lacing.

Smells of sweet caramel malts with very faint hints of booze-soaked medium fruits. As the beer warms hints of toffee also waft out.

Tastes very similar to how it smells. Smooth caramel malt flavors that are somewhat grainy but certainly lean toward the sweet side of things. Mild toffee flavors work their way into things shortly thereafter before being pushed out by moderately boozy medium fruit flavors midway through the sip. The fruit flavors are made up of pears, dark cherries, and raisins. The fruit flavors fade out and allow the caramel malt and toffee flavors to carry through to a mildly sweet ending.

Mouthfeel is very good. It's got a nice thickness with smooth carbonation.

Drinkability is good. I had no problems finishing my glass and could have another.

Overall this is a solid beer for the style but wasn't as smooth as I'd hoped. It will likely improve as it ages further but I wouldn't expect it to get much better. Still, a solid beer from a great brewery and it's worth a shot to see for yourself.

Photo of augustgarage
3.32/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 750mL bottle into my Spirit Sipper's snifter. 5 years on, and this is a bit past its prime.

Muddy opaque auburn body and a sandy brown head receding to a lasting collar and slick.

Old socks, stale beet greens, tobacco, and prunes in the nose - not the most inviting aromas, but not outside the style per-se.

Quite tart, palate is full of loam and aspirin - an odd medicinal leathery, floral mess of flavors. Oxidation comes to the front, but there are still hefty malt notes.

Syrupy, medium-bodied, low carbonation.

Not yet off, but I wish I had opened this two years ago...more like an old ale than a barley wine now...

Photo of MASPuros
4.12/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Copper color with reddish hues. Lots of head and lacing.
S: Sweet smell; some cherries, dark fruits, brown sugar, very earthy.
T: Taste is very complex. Malty, little bit of sourness, and leathery
M/D: Sipper; bubbles dance in your mouth and make this easier to drink.

Photo of nickd717
3.98/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Can't believe I didn't already review this on BA. Well, I had a bottle again this weekend at a barleywine tasting. This is a unique one, that's for sure.

Pours a deep dark brown color with a lasting one-finger tan head. Looks excellent.

Aroma is caramel malt and toffee, vanilla, dark fruit, and some mild cherryish tartness.

Flavor is good, strong, and a little tart, with caramel and toffee, raisin, and sweet/tart cherry. As the name would imply, it is fairly decadent. This really is complex and I like it a lot. Despite being tart, I really don't think it's infected.

Body is medium for a barleywine and there is a little tart acidic bite. ABV well hidden.

I actually found myself going back for more of this despite my extreme drunkenness and it being 4am. That says something. Overall this is a solid beer, although I'm sure many won't get it.

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.05/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter. Bottle #406/433. Reviewed from notes.

Appearance - Deep murky brown. Small khaki head. Wispy with a thin collar.

Smell - Nice barrel. Awesome oak and bourbon. Vanilla is really strong, too. Brown sugar behind the barrel. There's definitely an off aroma, though.

Taste - Definitely tangy. The barrel still comes through, though. Grapefruit citrus tang. The brown sugar shines through, too. Not a terrible infection, it has to be said, but I'd rather it weren't there as the flavors that do come through are great.

Mouthfeel - Spoiled by sourness, but not horribly so. Over carbonated.

Overall - Better than I expected when someone said we were having an infected barleywine. Still, nothing like what it could have been.

Photo of bashiba
3.87/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a murky light brown with some reddish highlights, a thin layer of tan head, light lacing.

The smell was a bit sweet with a bit of toffee, alcohol, and a deep bread quality.

The flavor was lightly tart with a bit of a wild brett like character to it, big english caramel malt flavors of heavy bread, toffee and a a bit of cedar come through, at this point there are no hops left to speak of. The tartness is a nice counterbalance to the big malty and alcohol sweetness.

The mouthfeel is creamy and a bit warm.

Very easy to drink, and enjoyable, but a bit of a departure from classic English Barleywine.

Photo of Bung
3.7/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750. Paring down the cellar, time for this one to go. Very murky orangey brown pour. Nice layer of light tan head. Retains pretty well.

Aroma, caramel, toffee, brown sugar. Very faint citrus. Very light booze.

Taste quite tart up front, sour apple. No signs of infection anywhere, so I assume this was either intentional or this is fading already. A bit of burnt brown sugar, cookie dough. Mellows to a bit more to some toffee, caramel. Finishes with a little more citrus, and a definete smoke or pumpernickel. Very different.

Solid body, just enough carbonation. Alcohol really not present for 11%. Woah, check that as it warms, it warms.

Expectations were a little higher than the result, but still not a bad brew, as I have yet to have a bad one from Alesmith.

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a clear deep copper color ale with a quite large foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of light caramel malt with subtle toffee and a feeling of light tart notes. Taste is also a good mix between loads of caramel malt with balanced sweetness and no alcohol was discernable. Light tart notes are also noticeable thought not to the point were it is no longer interesting to drink this beer. Well brewed though lacking some complexity.

Photo of JohnGalt1
4.17/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 received a while back.. sorry I can't remember who sent it to me and I lost my trading notebook from that time frame... Shared with inflatablechair at a minor tasting a while back... reviewed from notes.

Slightly hazy... deep orange red... nice lacing and cap

Nose has a big fruitiness that makes me think of cherries.. lite caramel and toffee essence... quite a bit of spicy alcohol.

Flavor reminds me of Stingo immediately.. raisins.. black cherries.. tons of yeasty esters.. definitely English... I know some people think this is infected, but I disagree... the esters in this beer are nearly off the chart for most English BW's... I would love to try the wood aged version, but I doubt I'll get the chance.

Thanks again to who sent me my couple of bottles... I will be sitting on the other for a long while, probably while trying to score a few more... I really enjoyed this one, but it does need more time in the bottle to really come together.


Photo of mikesgroove
4.47/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

poured a very nice and thick looking ruby tinted brown with a small say about a finger and a half of white lace and foam on the top. Quick recession led to a decent but not impressive side glass presentation and virtually no carbonation was immediately visible. Smell was very sweet with candy like sugar and a rich malty smell, some light hops in the foreground, but they have been mostly mellowed out. A thick syrup like feel, with not a lot of carbonation was what was waiting for me. There was a nice sweet flavor to this, and a touch of alcohol was most definitely present. A good piney hop finish was there drawing out the flavors of fresh grass and a light bread like malt

Photo of largadeer
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks Arbitrator. 750ml bottle to a tulip, a small light tan head tops a hazy copper body. Tart berry and toffee aroma, a bit of cherry pie filling, iron and spiciness. Figgy and fruitcake sweetness up front with earthy hop bitterness following. There's a solid toffee malt backbone. The body is medium-full and nicely balanced between malt sweetness and earthy complexity. Nice stuff, I hope to see this barrel-aged at some point in the future.

Photo of vacax
4.35/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours with a vast and dense light tan head. Liquid is black cherry colored, with red cherry tones along the extremeties with a bit of backlight. A nearly solid coat of lace is left in my tulip glass. A beautiful barleywine.

The aroma is full of sweet spiced figs, light brown sugar, cookie dough, and abundant dark fruits. The taste is equally bursting with sweet stewed dark fruits. Some floral flavors of rose or geranium. The pleasant fruity sweetness is balanced by earthy hops, tobacco, wood, and fresh ground pepper. One of the better non barrel-aged barleywines out there. Medium-full body and medium-high carbonation. Ready to drink and ready to age.

Complex and accessible. I haven't heard whether or not Alesmith put some aside in barrels, but I am crossing my fingers on that one and hoping they did. Earthy, sweet, and highly drinkable. Alesmith celebrates another anniversary with a worthy brew.

Photo of ShrLSU
4.15/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep mahogany color. A nice tan head that dies down leaving a light layer across the top. Lacing is very evident on the sides.

Aromas of apples, caramel and toffee. A slight bit of dark fruits as well.

The taste is very complex. Lots of malt, toffee, dark fruits, and apples. It has a potent boozy taste as suiting its style.

The mouthfeel is pretty thick and coating the mouth. Has some alcohol tingle at the end.

Overall a great beer and another winner from Alesmith.

Photo of Xul
4.05/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a murky dark amber with a brown hue, capped by a short-lived 1 finger beige head. Moderate streams of bubbles are visible on the sides of the glass, maintaining a faint lacing in the head's absence.

S: Big caramel and toffee base, accentuated by lots of dark fruit - cherries, figs, even a vinous quality to it. There's a faint tartness lingering in the background, but it's actually a bit subdued from what I recall out of a fresh bottle.

T: Same basic components as the smell, although less sweet up front and the caramel isn't as predominant. The vinous quality is a bit stronger in the middle and pairs with the hint of tartness to create an interesting taste...but that quickly gives way to a brown sugar finish. I'm not sure if the tart/sour aspect was intentional, but while somewhat interesting, it does end up detracting from what the beer could be without it.

M: Full bodied and smooth, without being too heavy on the tongue. Very well done.

D: A definite sipper, but very drinkable.

Photo of Thorpe429
4.42/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Freddie at Beverages 4 Less was generous enough to share a bottle of this with my wife and I while we shopped--and believe me, it was the best shopping experience that I had ever had! Consumed in August 2009.

A: Pours a reddish copper with nice crimson highlights. A nice puffy head sits atop this one with some nice lacing.

S: Lots of malty sweetness with some cherries, dark fruits, toffee, and some brown sugar.

T: Plenty of sweet caramel malt, fruits, and lots of malt complexity. This is a great example of an English Barleywine, and I'd love to see how this one ages.

M: Medium bodied and an excellent sipper--it's hard to swallow as each mouth full introduces greater complexities.

D: Quite drinkable, but definitely a sipper.

Photo of AgentZero
4.17/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Dark reddish color with ruby highlights. Small white head that left no lacing when it dissipated.

S - Carmel malt smell, with vanilla, some bourbon, and a lot of brown sugar.

T - Quite malty, some bourbon and chocolatly smell. Finishes a bit sour, not super familiar with the style, so not sure if his is how it is supposed to happen or not, but it is fairly familiar.

M - Full bodied, just sightly less than medium bodied. decently carbonated.

d 0 this is a hard one to make super drinkable. strong enough, with the alcohol burn that it is slightly a bit low on the drinkability scale.

Photo of womencantsail
3.26/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A hazy amber color with a small khaki head. An interesting array of aromas on this. Certainly sour with a strong citric acidity and a bit of vinegar. Candied orange peel, caramel, and some toffee. A little bit of grapefruit on the finish. The flavor is somewhat sweet with toffee and brown sugar. Still a little bit of booze along with some dark fruits. Definitely tart, but not overwhelmingly so.

Photo of John_M
4.34/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Shared with Dyan the other day. Many thanks good sir for the opportunity to try this excellent beer.

The beer pours a mahogany brown color with good head retention and lacing. On the nose, wow... this has to be one of the most complex beer aromas I've ever come across. I get wood, brown sugar, lavendar, cherry and even sandlewood. As the beer warms, some of the more exotic aromas disappear, and I start to get more of a chocolate and brown sugar aroma. In any event, the nose on this beer is quite pronounced and attractive. Flavors on the palate generally replicate the nose, but it's dialed down considerably. I noticed some flavors of ginger ale, rootbeer, chocolate and brown sugar, which I know sounds odd, but really was pretty good. The moderate sweetness is countered very nicely by some light bitterness in the finish. On the other hand, the beer tastes a bit light right now, and doesn't have the intensity of flavor I want in a BW. In fact, this beer strikes me as a bit "green" at the present time, and could really use some bottle age to round it out a bit. That being said, I found this to be an impressive young BW, one that I suspect will probably be world class after a few years in bottle. The abv. is remarkably well disguised for such a big beer, which I think speaks to how well balanced it is, with nothing out of preportion or sync.

I have to say I found this to be a very interesting and intriguing beer at the present time, and one I would love to be able to try again after a few years. Given how limited this beer is, that probably won't happen. Oh well.

Photo of beagle75
3.78/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 750 ml bottle into a tasting glass.

A: Hazy, dark amber color with no foam head. No lacing remains on the glass.

S: Very malty with a lot of toffee and crystal character. Wood is suggested, while sourness stands out more than expected.

T: Begins very off-dry, with spirituous grain and tartness that is slightly acetic. Malt is refined into the middle where estery and boozy dark fruit is detectable. Flavors dry out somewhat by the finish which tastes of earthy fermented green plants and citrus pith.

M: Medium viscosity, acidic yet smooth on the palate, with moderate carbonation.

D/O: The rumors were true for this bottle--Decadence 2008 turned out to be a sour barleywine. As a sour it is a success, although barleywine qualities were a bit compromised due to sharing time with the defining tartness. It is a special, beautifully-flawed beer--a trait that is as interesting and almost as desirable as is a perfect beer.

Photo of johnnnniee
3.6/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from Mike's Barleywine tasting, thanks for the opportunity!
Big fruit and sherry notes with a bit of caramel still left. Great to try but maybe a bit over the hill.

Photo of DefenCorps
4.37/5  rDev +15%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I split this with John the other night, and half expected it to be poor showing, especially after all the great beers we'd had already. Was I wrong

A: Mildly hazy deep reddish brown with ruby highlights. Thick, light brown head that recedes to a disk rather quick, leaving some lace.

S: Great combination of fruit and sweetness, with cherries, plums as well as sugar, nougat and toffee. The combination was exquisite, and as John noted, brought to mind a delicate sandalwood incense. As it warms up, more brown sugar and over-ripened freezer-burned bananas come to mind

T: The combination of kettle caramelization and yeasty esters, mostly sweet cherry and prune character. Complex sweetness with toffee and candied cherries. It tastes *exactly* like it should - a young English barleywine. The finish is long, sweet and complex and fruity.

M: Incredible. Full yet light and airy with mild carbonation. Long, sweet finish with fruity character.

D: I am thoroughly enjoying this beer. Well done, Alesmith, I wish I had the fortitude to hold onto a bottle for a decade.

Photo of MisterClean
4.03/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Purchased at whole foods in Tustin, CA.

A - Pours copper with 1 finger of off-white head. Dissipates moderately and leaves little to no lacing. Carbonation is minimal as the brewer attempted to go to style.

S - Caramel and light hints of chocolate.

T - Toffee, caramel, chocolate, flowery hops, and bittering hops. Finish has some light alcohol. Malt bill is much more complex than in smell.

M - Full-bodied, malt dominated, sweet, light alcohol, lightly astringent and tart.

D - A good take on an English style, but some small flaws from astringency and the smell not as revealing as the taste.

Photo of jminsc76
4.64/5  rDev +22.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Into a tulip, pours a soapy-colored head atop an impenetrable amber/brown-ish body. No lacing, but some decent legs as I tilt the glass.

Aromas of caramel, apples, and a slight amount of tropical fruit. A fairly sweet bouquet, and even exhibits a small amount of cocoa as the beer warms.

A subtle flavor profile that includes chocolate, leather, cinnamin, pepper, and tobacco. No upfront punch to the palate, but the flavors glide together well, primarily on the finish.

A thick moutfeel, almost chewy. Sticks to the upper part of the gums, and on the whole almost has a thirst-quenching feeling.

Drinking this with alexd3891, and he says it tastes like leather fruit snacks. As I have no point of reference, I will take his word for it. Which is always golden.

Overall, this is excellent. It's complex and it passes the test of any good English(-style)Barleywine: it matches well with stilton.

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AleSmith Decadence 2008 English Style Barleywine from AleSmith Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 108 ratings.